Answering Your Questions About Injury Claims
Birenbaum & Goldberg, LLP receives many questions from people who have been injured in accidents or on the job. Below, you’ll find several of our most frequently asked questions and answers.
Q: I’ve been injured—now what?
A: Go see your doctor first. Your injuries should be treated before you even consider making a claim against someone for causing them. Make sure your health is being taken care of first. Keep any information from your initial medical appointment. Records of your injury and your treatment are vital for your case if you decide to pursue a claim. Then call us and we can schedule your free consultation.
Q: How long can I wait before I file a claim for my personal injury?
A: You really should seek help with your claim immediately. In Massachusetts, although there are some exceptions, your case generally must be filed in court within 3 years of the accident.
Q: A giant commercial truck/semi hit me and I, my children, or other people in my car were injured. What can I do?
A: Large truck companies have teams of lawyers at the ready to help them get out of paying you and your family for the injuries their driver caused. You need to call us to help you get what you deserve from the company for your injuries, pain and suffering, the damage to your vehicle, and for any other injuries to the people riding in your car with you.
Q: If I get hurt on the job, what should I do?
A: You should immediately tell your supervisor or someone in your HR department, and then get medical help for your injuries. It is imperative that you file a written report of the accident with your employer at work, or you may be denied any disability or workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries.
Next, file your workers’ compensation documents according to your company’s guidelines. If you are turned down for your benefits, give us a call to get your case assessed. We’ll help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries on the job.
Q: If I’m injured in a car accident, who pays for my medical bills?
A: Insured motorists in Massachusetts who are covered by PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance coverage are entitled to have up to $8,000.00 in reasonable and necessary medical expenses paid by their own insurance carrier without regard to who caused the accident.
If the injured party has health insurance, PIP benefits above the amount of $2,000.00 are not to be used for medical expenses. Instead, an injured party’s health insurer must pay for medical expenses that exceed $2,000.00. If the inured party does not have health insurance, PIP pays up to a maximum of $8,000.00.
If the injured party has purchased Medical Payments coverage, he or she may have an additional source of funds for the payment of medical benefits.
NOTE: PIP covers not only an insured motorist who has PIP coverage, but also anyone driving (such as an insured person’s auto with permission), anyone living in the household of the insured, passengers in the insured’s auto, and pedestrians struck by the insured’s auto.
Q: If my injuries cause me to miss work, who pays for my lost wages?
A: In addition to the payment of medical bills as described above, PIP will be responsible for replacing up to 75% of your out-of-pocket lost wages. Even if you are unemployed at the time of the accident, you may be entitled to receive these benefits.
There are important restrictions regarding the right to payment for lost wages. Among these restrictions are: PIP benefits will not be paid for (1) anyone who, at the time of the accident, was operating or occupying a motorcycle or motorized bicycle, including a Moped and (2) anyone who contributed to his or her injury by operating an auto while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or narcotic drugs, or while committing a felony.
Q: If I’m hurt in an auto accident, can I sue for my injuries?
A: Massachusetts presently has a mixed no fault/fault system of automobile insurance. This means that certain persons who have been injured in an auto accident but whose injuries do not meet a defined level of seriousness—called the “tort threshold”—cannot sue a person whose negligence in operating an automobile causes personal injury.
In these cases, an injured party cannot recover for pain and suffering but can only recover PIP benefits, property damage, and other limited benefits. On the other hand, if your injuries meet the “tort threshold”—that is, if you suffer a fracture, loss of bodily member, permanent and serious disfigurement, loss of sight or hearing, or if you simply incur $2,000.00 in reasonable and necessary medical expenses in the treatment of your injury—you may sue the negligent party for general damages including pain and suffering.
Q: If I can sue, what can I be compensated for?
A: If you prevail in your claim, either by way of settlement or trial, you may recover compensation for, along with other things, past and future lost income, medical bills (even if paid by PIP), scars, and loss of bodily functions and pain and suffering.
Q: What if the person who caused the accident is uninsured or underinsured?
A: If the responsible party is uninsured (has no insurance) or is underinsured (has insurance but in an amount that is insufficient to compensate you for your injuries), you may make a claim against your own insurer under the Uninsured and Underinsured parts of your own policy.
In Massachusetts, Uninsured Motorist coverage is compulsory and you should purchase an amount that is high enough to protect you, should an uninsured motorist injure you.
Underinsurance Motorist Coverage, on the other hand, is optional and not required by law. In our opinion, it is dangerous not to purchase Underinsurance Motorist Coverage in sufficient amounts to compensate you adequately for your damages should you be injured by an underinsured motorist. You would be wise to seek advice from your insurance agent.